Brain activity during resting state in relation to academic performance: Evidence of neural efficiency

Mei-chun CHEUNG, Agnes S. CHAN, Yvonne Ming Yee HAN, Sophia L. SZE

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EEG coherence has been widely used to investigate brain activity and learning. However, relatively little is known about the relationship between resting-state EEG coherence and academic performance. The present study investigated this relationship with 140 healthy, normal participants. EEG was recorded during resting periods, with eyes open for 3 min, and the recordings were analyzed for 64 electrode positions in the theta (4–8 Hz), alpha (8–12 Hz), and beta (12–25 Hz) frequency bands. Coherence, defined as the spectral cross-correlation between two signals normalized by their power spectra, was calculated. Short- and long-range intrahemispheric coherence within each hemisphere and interhemispheric coherence across the left and right hemispheres were then computed and compared for each of the theta, alpha, and beta bands. The results showed that academic performance, as measured by grade point average (GPA), was negatively correlated with short-range intrahemispheric alpha and beta coherences in both hemispheres and with interhemispheric alpha and beta coherences in the temporal cortical regions. Therefore, better academic performers demonstrated more decoupling of brain areas when resting with eyes open. This is consistent with a model that relates decreased coherence to neural efficiency. Copyright © 2014 Federation of European Psychophysiology Societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
JournalJournal of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
Early online dateJan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014



Cheung, M.-c., Chan, A. S., Han, Y. M., & Sze, S. L. (2014). Brain activity during resting state in relation to academic performance: Evidence of neural efficiency. Journal of Psychophysiology, 28(2), 47-53.


  • EEG
  • Academic performance
  • Coherence
  • Neural efficiency